4 out of 4 stars
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How long does it take to complete a movie or a film? A year or two, maybe three? Ever heard of a movie that’s more than three decades in the making? That’s right, more than three decades! That’s even longer than the time I have been on Earth so far. My curious self wants to comprehend why it took this long to release a film.
Those questions were answered by this book Swimming Among Sharks by Suzanne C. Nagy as she takes us behind the scenes of the movie Grizzly II: Revenge. This movie was originally scheduled to be released in 1984. Three decades later, Suzanne Nagy decided to complete the film. This is a 94-page narrative told from a first-person perspective and one can finish reading it pretty quickly.
Suzanne’s family is not trusted by the current communist regime in Hungary. A bit of alienation is evident in the lack of opportunities for them in the country although they aren’t considered enemies of the state. Her mother, despite having a doctorate degree and skills in speaking four languages, could hardly get any job. Her father came from a family that wasn’t trusted because his mom was persona non grata during communism, therefore, he inherited that “not to be trusted” reputation. As if that wasn’t burdensome enough, Suzanne married an American who came to Budapest. Despite the diplomatic and bilateral relationship, Hungarians are still indifferent towards the United States during this time, hence the extra hostility towards her and her family by other people, even friends.
She had attended a program for writers and producers and that’s how she started getting into the filmmaking industry. Nagy had a contract with Hungarofilm, the artificial arm of the film industry known for the government informers. She worked as a representative and served as a liaison between American producers and the Hungarian film industry. While working on a current movie project, another film producer who wanted to make movies in Hungary contacted her and invited her to come to Chicago for a meeting. Weeks later after that initial meeting, they signed a deal for a three movie projects. The first film that they agreed to was a sequel to the movie that was distributed in 1975, Grizzly I. Here comes the rollercoaster of events and emotions; from the exhilarating preparation, endless travel back and forth, numerous meetings, tedious permit application, successful concert and the insane drama that Nagy had to face and endure. Man, I thought I was draining my brain cells reading through all the works that she was doing. It is well known that she got a partner, and this is what’s extremely annoying. The partner started ignoring her calls and she had to take decisions on her own, having to deal with everything practically alone.
The real behind the scene events are crazier than I thought. I genuinely felt Nagy’s rage, desperation, anger, and stress. In a way, I felt connected with her exhaustion in the midst of the chaotic and messy situation that she was in. That first-person perspective writing style is commendable and the book couldn’t have been written any better. “I didn’t realize that being successful is not only due to hard work and preparation, but you need to be tough, experienced, vigilant, and able to say no.” This is one of those statements that got stuck on my mind after reading the book.
I spotted a couple of misspellings but I wasn’t at all bothered nor annoyed. There was no profane language or erotic content. This book might appeal to those Grizzly movie fans that have been waiting for the sequel. They would be able to get a clear picture as to why part two was not released on the scheduled date. Readers who would like to know about film production in the 80’s may equally find the book useful. I didn't find anything that I despise, therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
Swimming Among Sharks
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